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14.6.12

The Hoover Dam: Why Is It Art Deco?


A TIME TO SOAR

Even though I have an ardent connection for everything art deco, I've often wondered why a place like the Hoover Dam is all art deco. Don't get me wrong - this is by no means a complaint. My initial research led me to believe that when the design was first presented, it was severely criticized by many as being too plain and unremarkable for a project of such immense scale.

Dedication Plaque by Henry Yim

And I think we can all agree that this is a grandiose piece of architecture. The Hoover Dam graceful curve and Art Deco style contrasts with the stark landscape of the Black Canyon of the Colorado River over which it was built. Back in 1935, Los Angeles-based architect Gordon Kaufmann was brought in and assigned to streamlined the design, and he applied an elegant Art Deco style to the entire project (this was done with some much needed help from Denver artist Allen Tupper True).

Majestic 
Details of the Art Deco Hoover Dam Statue
Photo credit: Saint 1604's Photostream, via Flickr
Soaring Figure 
Photo credit: Prof. Moreaus Photostream via Flickr

Kaufmann also incorporated motifs of the Navajo and Pueblo tribes of the region, as well as sand paintings, textiles, baskets and ceramics. Sculptor Oskar J.W. Hansen designed many of the sculptures that you see today when you visit this magnificent, and majestic place. My husband visited HD back in the late 90s and was quite taking by the sheer beauty of his surroundings. This architectural wonder has been compared to the great pyramids of Egypt and belongs to the sagas of the daring. Sadly, many men have lost their lives building this great monument. Gordon Kaufmann, who was also known to design the Los Angeles Times Building, simplified the Dam’s design with a strong reference to Modernism and Art Deco. Fabulous!


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3 comments:

D said...

I was also wondering why the was Dam is labelled as art deco/art moderne with it's controversial appearence and contrasting surroundings. thanks for the brief overview :)

D said...

I was also wondering why the was Dam is labelled as art deco/art moderne with it's controversial appearence and contrasting surroundings. thanks for the brief overview :)

D said...

I was also wondering why the was Dam is labelled as art deco/art moderne with it's controversial appearence and contrasting surroundings. thanks for the brief overview :)

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